Christmas Ceremonies in Istanbul
A Greek Orthodox boy lights a candle by AP Photo/Murad Sezer
General impression about Istanbul doesn`t include the idea of celebrating `Christmas`. However if we travel back in time, you can be surprised!
One of the milestones in the Christian history is the `Edict of Milan, AD 313` which is simply the legalization of the Christian religion by the Romans. The edict was signed by Emperor Constantine the Great who gave his name to the city as we all know Constantinople. Therefore we can say that Istanbul (Constantinople) was one of the early cities where Christianity was spread. Hagia Sophia (means `Holy Wisdom`) is a strong evidence of this claim. Even though today the majority of the population of Istanbul consists of Muslims, nearly 99%, Christmas is still celebrated in various churches in this city of temples.
So let’s take a look at the options for Christmas ceremonies in Istanbul.
1-Greek Ortodox Patriarchate (Church of St. George) Greek Ortodox Patriarchate is one of the rooted churches of Istanbul, dating back to 4th century. The present building was built in late 16th century which is located in the Fener district by the bay of Golden Horn. The Christmas ceremony takes place on the 25th of December, 9am in the morning. For further information, visit: www.patriarchate.org
2- Armenian Patriarchy Armenian Patriarchy Church is located in Kumkapı, dating back to 15th century. The present building was rebuilt in the 19th century. Since the Armenian Christmas is celebrated on January 6th, service takes place at 10.15am in the morning. For further information, visit: www.lraper.org/main.aspx
3-St Antoine Church The biggest Roman Catholic church in Istanbul which was built between 1906-1912 by Italian community living in Istanbul. St Antoine is located on the biggest pedestrian street, Istiklal Caddesi. December 24th, following the chorus at 8pm, the birth celebration of Jesus starts at 9pm. For further information, visit: www.sentantuan.com
4-Crimean Memorial Church First and only Gothic style Anglican church, built in the memory of soldiers died in the Crimean war. The church is located in the Galata district, nearby the Galata tower. Anglican services in English will take place on Dec 24th at 8pm and Dec 25th at 10am.
We hope you enjoy your stay in Istanbul and wish you a Merry Christmas!!